De Addis Abeba a Ciudad del Cabo (From Addis Ababa to Cape Town)

Another rewind – a taste of Swahili cooking
March 4, 2012, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We tasted some really good pilau while in Tanzania and wanted to learn how to make it ourselves. So early one Sunday morning, Simai from KV Tours met us at our guesthouse to take us to Dharajani market to get the ingredients for our lunch. We’d chosen to make boiled fish with pilau and sweet bananas with coconut milk for dessert.

From the market we drove out to one of the villages on the outskirts of Stone Town and in a very basic but authentic set-up, began the necessary preparation to create our culinary delights.

We had a great day cooking, drinking coconut water from fresh coconuts, eating (a lot) and chatting with Simai, who is the young director of KV Tours. He’s a really switched on guy with a lot of initiative and a big focus of his business is to involve the local community through employment and participation so that they too benefit from the tours and services he offers.

Buying fish at Dharajani

Buying fish at Dharajani

Pilau ingredients

Pilau ingredients

Hard at work

Hard at work

Smiley Simai

Smiley Simai

Enjoying fresh coconut water

Enjoying fresh coconut water

Alberto working the coconut to get the milk for our dessert

Alberto working the coconut to get the milk for our dessert

The end result - it was delicious (if we don't mind saying so ourselves)

The end result - it was delicious (if we don't mind saying so ourselves)

The right way to do lunch

The right way to do lunch

Here’s the recipe in case you fancied trying it yourself:

Boiled fish with pilau

Ingredients(serves at least 4):

3/4 kg rice
4 medium potatoes
2 small red onions
3 small garlic heads
cardamom (1/3 of a packet)
1 packet of whole cinnamon
1/2 packet of ground cinnamon
1 packet of cumin seeds
1/2 packet of black peppercorns
vegetable cooking oil
meaty fish / beef (use ginger with beef when boiling – helps to tenderise meat) / chicken


Cut fish into big chunks and boil in water with salt, garlic and lime.

For the pilau:
Peel and mash the garlic cloves
Peel and slice onions into rings
Peel and cut potatoes in half
Wash cumin seeds and leave them soaking in a mug of water
Wash rice and drain

Brown onions in the oil, when brown add the garlic and fry for 30s, then add the potatoes and the dry spices and fry for a minute or so until the potatoes are well covered. Add the mug with the cumin seeds and the fish broth, when it boils add half litre of water.

When boiling again add rice and keep stirring until most of the water is absorbed, put meat or fish on top, cover with the rice (so it doesn’t dry out) and then place in oven for 10-15 minutes.

And the tasty accompaniment:


1 red onion – slice thin and squeeze with water and salt until soft, discard water.
1 chilli – deseed and slice thin
4 small tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 carrot, 1 green pepper – chop thin.
The juice of 3 limes, a bit of water and salt – mix together until the salt dissolves.

Mix all together and let rest while cooking the pilau.



3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Gosh, that looks lovely and the whole preparation looked like fun too :) Safe travels.

Comment by Cheryl P.

Nom NoM NOM!

Comment by Valerie McIntosh

Wow, food looks amazing! You guys are looking to healthy and happy! Sisi, you have still not answered my question about the ring ………. Love you guys and travel safe xxx I am so jealous

Comment by Renee du Plessis

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